Applying Lessons Learned from MOOCs to the Traditional Classroom (Data, Baby, Data!)

Brief Abstract

A breathtakingly short hype cycle prematurely sounded the death knell for massive open online courses (MOOCs) while overlooking the value that they bring to the table: massive data that describe the convergence of teaching, learning, and technology at scale. The University of Colorado has been a Coursera partner since 2013 and, in the course of developing dozens of courses, specializations, and even for-credit certificates on the platform, has gleaned principles of learning design from the nearly 2 million learners who have signed up for its MOOCs. Analysis of data and Coursera’s own A/B testing has given hints about how to best retain and assess the learning of the largely “volunteer” learners in MOOCs. Many of these lessons in learning design at scale can and rightly should be applied to the design of face-to-face, hybrid, and “traditional” online courses. They also bear a striking resemblance to the basics of learning design: knowing the learning audience, knowing and contextualizing what they need to learn (and how we can best determine whether or not they’ve learned it), providing community and expert feedback and coaching.


Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Ph.D. and Associate Vice President for Digital Education and Engagement at the University of Colorado System Office, is a creative educator and thought leader with over two decades of experience in IT and higher education. She began her career at the University of Colorado in 1998, where she served as director of academic technology; oversaw strategy and research in the use, implementation, and evaluation of educational technologies; and managed a team of consultants and technologists. Currently, Deborah works across the CU System in the areas of teaching and learning with technology, online education, access to higher education, and student success. She has been instrumental in furthering CU campuses' implementation of digital and online education solutions, including MOOCs. She serves as the director of the Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) Conference and oversees state authorization compliance. She is an inaugural member of the Coursera Advisory Council, serves as faculty for the EDUCAUSE Management Institute, and sits on the steering committee for the National Association for System Heads’ (NASH) Taking Student Success to Scale initiative. She has supported the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) for more than a decade and participated in research and program development to increase the number of girls, women, and underrepresented minorities in IT education and work. Deborah is a graduate of Dartmouth College and completed her Ph.D. in German Literature at the University of Michigan, where she also earned a master's degree in Higher Education Administration from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education and a graduate certificate in Women's Studies.

Extended Abstract